Kent

Smarden mattress mountain man's life 'a living hell'

Mattresses Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption The court heard the pile reached up to five metres high

A businessman accused of blighting a village with a mountain of discarded mattresses has told a court his personal life was "a living hell".

Lewis Bertram, who ran a recycling business in Smarden, Kent, is accused of having more than double the amount of waste he was allowed on the site.

He told Canterbury Crown Court the Environment Agency figure of 2,300 tonnes was "physically impossible".

Giving evidence, he said there was 500 to 800 tonnes maximum.

Mr Bertram denies exceeding the limit on a waste licence at his Eco-Matters recycling site.

He also denies knowingly permitting the deposit of waste on land without an environmental permit and failing to comply with a notice to move the waste.

The trial heard he had a strict limit of processing 1,000 tonnes at a time.

Image caption Lewis Bertram is accused of failing to take action when asked to do so

The prosecution asked Mr Bertram to look at a number of pictures that it said showed he was clearly storing waste outside his site.

He replied that they may have been taken on days when new mattresses had just been delivered before being taken inside.

The judge then asked him to look at three different photos taken over a period of six months and asked him if they showed the same waste in those pictures, but he said no.

Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption Lewis Bertram recycled the textiles and metals inside old mattresses

He said he had been going through a difficult time personally.

"My home life, my personal life, was an absolute living hell.

"It affected my functionality in my everyday life completely. It eats up your life completely."

The court also heard that he was "passionate" about his business and had paid for a shredder to help clear the site, but it never turned up.

The case continues.

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